NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Coach Suspended

NECC Knights basketball coach Darren Stratton has been placed on administrative leave due to charges of illegal gambling pressed against him.

Stratton, 41, is facing charges of registering bets, using a telephone to register bets and conspiracy to register bets. He is among 33 defendants indicted in an alleged multimillion dollar sports betting scheme. According to Attorney General Maura Healey, the 33 defendants ran an extensive sports gambling enterprise that used an offshore, Costa Rica-based sports betting website,, to track bets.

The investigation by the attorney general’s office, partnered with the FBI, IRS and state police, resulted in a 122-count indictment.

“These defendants amassed a network of bettors in an enterprise that utilized an offshore betting website for their bookkeeping in an attempt to circumvent state gambling laws. We thank the Massachusetts State Police and all of the other federal, state and local agencies that assisted us in dismantling this operation,” Healey said.

According to a press release from the attorney general’s office, the suspected leader of the criminal network was John Woodman, age 43, of Braintree. Police allege that Woodman maintained a network of over 30 agents who took illegal bets from more than 700 bettors in Massachusetts.

The owner and operator of, Travis Prescott, was indicted as well.

Sue MacAvoy, athletic director of NECC, said that the basketball team will be “moving forward” in spite of these events.

“The main focus right now is the team,” she said.

Assistant Coach Joe Tardif has taken over in Stratton’s absence, going 4-2 over the 6 games he has coached since Stratton’s suspension.

Stratton and the other defendants were scheduled to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on Nov. 30.